Informa's oldest business started in 1734 when Lloyd's List, now one of the world's oldest continuously running journals, began covering London shipping news.
Informa itself was created in 1998 by the merger of IBC Group plc and LLP Group plc. Since then Informa has expanded considerably, including a 2004 merger with the publishing company Taylor & Francis and a 2005 acquisition of IIR Holdings, a human capital development company, for £768 million. In October 2006, the company was approached by Springer Science and Business Media in a takeover bid, but in early November the Informa board rejected the 630p per share offer as too low.
In early 2007, chairman Richard Hooper announced his retirement in May and, after consulting with major shareholders, the company moved chief executive Peter Rigby to chairman, and managing director David Gilbertson to Rigby's former post. Informa explained Rigby's move by the need to maintain management stability, although it generated some controversy because it did not follow the advice of the UK's Combined Code on Corporate Governance.
In December 2013, Informa acquired the assets of Elsevier Business Intelligence (EBI) from Reed Elsevier. The EBI business unit includes such publications as The Pink Sheet, The Gray Sheet, IN VIVO, Start-Up, and the Strategic Transactions database along with a series of notable conferences. The EBI assets combined with Scrip, Datamonitor and several other publications formed the newly created Pharma Intelligence division of Informa Business Information.
In January 2014, Stephen Carter became CEO of Informa plc. In September 2017, Informa announced that it would be acquiring Dove Medical Press.
In January 2018, Informa announced its intent to acquire UBM plc. The transaction was completed in June 2018.
The company operates more than 500 trade shows and 10,000 conferences annually, and publishes newsletters, academic journals, commercial databases, and academic and business books. Topics covered include arts and humanities through social sciences to physical science and technology; and finance and the law through to telecommunications, maritime trade, energy, biotech, commodities and agriculture. Its online publishing portal Informaworld provided subscribers with more than half a million journal articles and 13,000 e-books from all its imprints. In June 2011 the journals and e-books transferred to a new website, Taylor & Francis Online. Abstracting and indexing databases and bibliographic databases were to move from Informaworld to Taylor & Francis Online at a later date. Besides publishing, the group has several other interests represented by the brands it owns in many countries. These brands (companies) work in the areas of performance improvement and management consulting.